Quadir Welton's 27 points set new career high for senior forward as Saint Peter's defeated Boston University in start of three-game homestand. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)
JERSEY CITY, NJ -- For two seasons now, John Dunne has raved about the potential of Quadir Welton, his senior forward and focal point of the Saint Peter's interior.
Many times over the course of his career, Welton has backed up the high praise, usually in decisive victories, but never quite like the degree to which he validated both himself and his coach Monday night.
Welton's 27 points, a personal best, led four Peacocks in double figures as Saint Peter's withstood two challenges from Boston University before pulling away with double-digit runs each time to open a three-game homestand with a commanding 80-67 win, their first at the Yanitelli Center this season.
"I'm really just playing with a lot of confidence," Welton remarked after a 33-minute masterpiece in which the visiting Terriers were unable to find a true solution to the riddle of his game. "I know my teammates have confidence in me to get the ball back to me, and me just believing in myself, knowing I can get fouled or one-on-one, do something good, I could post."
Saint Peter's (3-2) enjoyed a dual benefit of Welton being efficient on his banner night, as the Philadelphia native achieved his point total on an impeccable 10-for-12 shooting display from the floor.
"He had that runner in the first half from about 8-to-10 feet, and when that went in, I said 'I think he's going to have a night,'" said Dunne of Welton's performance. "I watch him on a daily basis, and he can score in there. He could score with both shoulders, he's got his quick spin and they can't really cheat one way or the other."
The Peacocks actually gave their opponents a head start, trailing 7-0 through the first minute before Welton singlehandedly tied the score shortly before the first media timeout. Boston University (4-2) fought back to take a 14-11 lead, but immediately surrendered a 19-5 run that gave Saint Peter's the lead for good, a spurt that saw Welton on the bench for a significant portion of it as Dunne made sure not to overuse his dominating paint presence.
Trailing 35-31 at halftime, the Terriers drew within one possession after a layup from sophomore point guard Kyle Foreman; whose 20 points and five assists paced BU in both categories, made the score 58-55 with 9:04 remaining in regulation. But a 17-4 run triggered by a pair of Welton free throws and culminated by the resurgence of Trevis Wyche, who scored 13 of his 16 points after the intermission, put the game out of reach and allowed Saint Peter's to coast to their third victory, all by double digits and all with 80 or more points posted by a team not traditionally known for its offensive exploits.
"You play to your personnel," Dunne intimated, citing the arrival of three transfers who were not eligible last season; with one of whom, Nick Griffin, draining back-to-back three-pointers in the first half to tie and subsequently gave the Peacocks the lead. "We can go four-out, one (in) a lot of times, we've got guys that could put it in the basket. You look at our stat sheet and you look at a guy like Nnamdi Enechionyia, had zero points, but come Friday night, he could be 5-of-7. As long as we commit to playing unselfish basketball and staying low on turnovers, I think we'll be fine."
Antwon Portley supported the winning cause with 12 points, scored entirely in the second half, while Chazz Patterson added 11 of his own for Saint Peter's, who earned a valuable confidence boost before opening Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play against a pair of league titans in Iona and Manhattan.
"Obviously, you're more confident after a win," Dunne stated. "We've got to work really hard at just focusing on the next game, regardless of what just happened. We know the MAAC season is such a grind, but we have confidence. We know if we lock in defensively, we can do a really good job on that end of the floor. We have confidence, we should have confidence. At the end of the day, we're really looking forward to tipping it off on Friday."